Family Mediation in Family Disputes in Cyprus
- Mediation of disputes relating to parental responsibility disputes
- Mediation of disputes relating to children’s maintenance,
- Mediation of disputes relating to alimony and
- Mediation of disputes relating to property disputes of spouses or couples.
The Law does not include in its ambit a dispute relating to the removal or assignment of parental responsibility. Parental responsibility includes the identification of the name, custody of the child, the administration of the property and the representation of the child in any case or act concerning the child or its property as well as its upbringing and supervision, its education and training as well as the determination of its place of residence.
In relation to assignment of parental responsibility it is the Family Disputes Court which will decide and not the parties to the mediation. The Court in cases of divorce or separation and if both parents are alive, may regulate the parental responsibility and assign it to one of the parents (or both). In disputes other than those concerning parental responsibility, the parties may use the mediation for their family dispute. Therefore, the parties may mediate on matters such as the place of residence of the child or issues relating to communication of the child with one of the parents.
It is noted at this stage that family mediation is not necessary to resolve all the aspects of a family dispute. That is, a mediator appointed over a family dispute may focus on a specific part of the dispute (for example, the parent to whom the family home will be transferred, who will reside in it, etc., without dealing with individual issues such as with any other property acquired during the marriage).
Purpose of mediation in family disputes in Cyprus:
The purpose of mediation in family disputes in Cyprus is that the parties, with the contribution of a mediator, will mutually decide on how to resolve their family disputes. The goals of family mediation, are, in accordance with the Law, the following:
(1) Encouraging consensual approaches to reduce conflicts and hostility between parties in a family dispute and improving communication between all family members;
(2) Limiting the negative effects of family conflicts;
(3) Supporting and maintaining relationships between family members, especially between parents and children;
(4) Ensuring the best interests of the child;
(5) Encouraging joint parental responsibility for the care, well-being and development of children, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, regardless of the marital status and living conditions of any of the parents; and;
(6) Limiting the matters in dispute and bringing final settlement of the family dispute more speedily than through the judicial process.
Principles of family mediation in Cyprus:
According to the Law, family mediation in Cyprus is conducted in accordance with the following principles:
(1) The prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, ethnic or racial origin, community, beliefs, social or economic status or for any other reason;
(2) Ensuring the best interests of the child;
(3) Confidentiality, neutrality and impartiality;
(4) Voluntary participation of the parties; and
(5) the Family mediator taking into account any vulnerable position of any of the parties to the mediation.
Registration in the Family Dispute Resolution Register
It is obligatory for a family mediator to be registered in the Family Mediators Register. This register is kept by the Ministry of Justice and Public Order, and is also published on the website of the Ministry.
To register in the Family Mediators Register, a person must attend family dispute mediation courses (the hours to attend such courses have not yet been determined). The registration can be renewed with 24-hour courses after the first 6 years of registration and every 3 years thereafter.
To be registered in the Family Mediators Register, the family mediator must meet the following criteria:
(a) Hold a university degree or diploma recognized by the competent body in the Republic in law, psychology or social work;
(b) Must be registered in the relevant professional register of the profession in which he is employed;
(c) Must have pursued in Cyprus or abroad, in the public or private sector, the profession for which he holds one of the university titles or diplomas referred to in paragraph (a), for a continuous period of at least one (1) year, before submitting the application for registration in the Family Mediators Register;
(d) Must have been a permanent resident of the Republic for the last two (2) years prior to the submission of his application for registration in the Family Mediators Register;
(e) Must not hold or has held a permanent position in the public service or in the wider public sector for the last two (2) years prior to the submission of an application for registration in the Family Mediators Register;
(f) Must not have been convicted of a serious criminal offense or a misdemeanor an element of which is immoral contact or fraud;
(g) Must not have been under commission or guardianship and must not be deprived of his legal capacity;
(h) Must have received special training in mediation in family disputes, as set out in Regulations issued under the provisions of Article 43; and
(i) Must maintain an insurance contract with a licensed insurance company regarding the provision of insurance coverage against liability for professional negligence in the exercise of the profession of mediator of family disputes.
Article 9 of the relevant Law concerning Mediation in Family Disputes states specific instances under which a person’s registration may be struck-off the register. Such cases include bankruptcy, a request by the mediator, death, non-continuation of the mediator’s professional training, etc.
Mediator Obligations in Family Mediation
The Mediator in Family Mediation cases performs his duties with diligence, independence and impartiality, in an appropriate and effective manner, regardless of his or her capacity or profession and regardless of the manner in which he or she was assigned to undertake such mediation. S/he is not under the control and does not follow the instructions of any person or authority.
According to Article 10 of the Law, the Family Mediator must:
(a) Act in accordance with the principles governing the mediation process, as set out in Article 5 and the Code of Conduct of Family Mediators which is issued pursuant to the provisions of Article 45,
(b) Act impartially as regards the parties,
(c) Be neutral, as to the effect of mediation,
(d) Respect the views of the parties and ensure the balance of power of their negotiating positions,
(e) Ensure the private and confidential nature of the mediation and in particular the arrangements taking place in it and ensures that everything referred to in the mediation is not disclosed, except as provided in paragraph (f) of this Article and Articles 27 and 28,
(f) Inform the parties that statements made during the mediation process which show that any person, especially a child, has been or may be subject to violence or abuse will be disclosed by the mediator to the competent authorities, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of Article 27,
(g) In the event that the dispute concerns or affects a child in whole or in part, the fa,o;u mediator must show particular concern for the welfare and well-being of the child, encourages parents to focus on the child’s needs and reminds them of their primary responsibility for its well-being, as well as the need to inform the child and take its opinion into account,
(h) In the event that the dispute concerns or affects a child in whole or in part, if the family mediator deems it necessary and after consulting with the parties, the mediator hears the views of the child and takes them into account depending on its age and degree of maturity.
(i) Pay particular attention to whether or not violence has been used in the past or in the future between the parties, as well as the effect it may have on their negotiating positions.
If the family mediator believes that, under the specific circumstances of the dispute, the mediation process is not appropriate then the mediator terminates the mediation under the provisions of Article 32,
(j) Where the mediator feels that any of the parties to the mediation is unable or unwilling to participate in the proceedings freely and fully, raise the issue and consider the possibility of terminating the mediation process, and
(k) Prevent manipulative, threatening or intimidating behavior from any party and conducts the proceedings in such a way as to prevent, as far as possible, any inequality of power between the parties.
It is understood that, if any such conduct or inequality is likely to make the mediation unfair or ineffective, the mediator shall take the necessary measures to prevent this, including the termination of the proceedings, if the family mediator deems this necessary.
There are other duties that the family mediator should abide by such as for example not having a conflict of interest, ensuring that the parties are equally involved in the process, that the parties understand the process, that the Mediator is guided by the Code of Conduct for Family Mediators and the European Code of Conduct for Mediators.
This Article does not constitute legal advice.